The search for survivors is far from over, yet it’s already clear: The Maui fires are the nation’s deadliest wildfire event in more than a century. The blazes burned thousands of acres and killed at least 114 people — a greater death toll than any wildfire in California, where summer blazes are common. Hundreds remain missing on Maui, and the number of fatalities is expected to rise.
Much of Lāhainā, a historic town on Maui’s west coast, has been reduced to rubble and ashes. The fire moved so quickly there early last week that 17 people ran into the ocean for safety, where they had to be rescued by the Coast Guard.
With the fires now largely contained, attention is shifting to questions about what sparked the blazes, why residents weren’t given more time to flee, and who will control the reconstruction of Lāhainā. Experts are also warning that this kind of disaster could happen again as climate change deepens droughts and makes vegetation more likely to burn.